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Cheektowaga Town Board approves one-time sick-time donation

A resolution clearing the way for town employees to donate sick days to help a seriously ill worker was unanimously approved by the Cheektowaga Town Board Tuesday.

"He contracted cancer during the first year of his employment," said Timothy J. Meyers, deputy town supervisor.

The employee was hired less than a year ago to work at the Cheektowaga Pumping Station as a monitor, said Dean Szymkowiak, a 29-year town employee and president of the Town of Cheektowaga Employees Union.

"Letters seeking the donation will go out to members with their paychecks," Szymkowiak said. "The problem is that he's new."

The resolution allowing a one-time donation of sick leave time to a fellow employee is a rarity, said Karen Marchese, the town's coordinator of employee relations.

Marchese said that, during her four years with the town, there have been two similar requests.

"Usually it takes an employee a little more than four years to accrue the 25 days of sick leave required to join the Sick Leave Bank," Marchese said Tuesday during a work session that preceded the regular board meeting.

The employee does not yet meet the requirement to join the Sick Leave Bank, so it was decided to seek donations from fellow employees.

"It's been fairly traditional that co-workers have been willing to donate their sick days to help," Marchese said. "People care about their co-workers and don't want them to go unpaid. They want to donate their sick time to this ailing co-worker. If you're sick and not making money, it's difficult to pay your bills."

The Sick Leave Bank facilitated through the TCEA has been around for decades, said Karen Eckel, chairwoman of the TCEA Sick Leave Bank. Of the 225 employees in the union, 174 belong to the Sick Leave Bank.

Members are entitled to a total of 30 days of sick leave from the bank per year, said Eckel, but the employee must match each sick day from the bank with one of his own.

"We don't let members join and take that elective surgery," said Eckel. "They have a three-month waiting period. We have lots of rules."

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